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What are warts and verrucas?
Warts and verrucas are both skin lesions caused by a virus. A verruca is essentially a wart on the sole of the foot.
The virus that causes warts and verrucas is called the Human Papilloma Virus or HPV for short and is responsible for excessive skin growth that causes the characteristic skin lump seen with warts and verrucas. The lump is not cancerous and usually does cause any problem other than mild irritation, itch or soreness.
The HPV responsible for warts and verrucas should not to be confused with the HPV which causes genital warts. These are different types of a similar virus.
How did I get a wart or verruca?
HPV is passed form person to person by skin to skin contact. Broken skin and wet skin are more vulnerable to infection.
The time between first contact and development of the skin changes can vary between 1 month to a couple of years.
How long will my wart last?
30% of warts resolve spontaneously within 6 months.
Around 66% can take up to 2 years to resolve.
Do I need any treatment?
Warts and verrucas will eventually go on their own without treatment.
Treatments aimed at speeding up the process of resolution are actually methods to irritate the body, causing an immune response that awakens the body to the presence of the virus. As such, treatment has variable effectiveness.
Treatment to irritate the body which are available in primary care includes-
This is a weak acid which causes a mild burn to the skin. It is available from a pharmacy without a prescription.
This is a very cold spay that also causes a mild burn to the skin. It is also available from a pharmacy without a prescription.
Yes, that’s right! Duct tape over the wart or verruca also creates a useful immune response that can speed up the time taken for the infection to go. This is available from any good DIY shop.
Liquid nitrogen has little benefit over other methods of causing an immune response but can be useful in verrucas that have failed to respond to other treatment.
Liquid nitrogen causes scars and is painful and so is not frequently used at The Oakwood Surgery in the treatment of warts and verrucas.
This is not suitable for young children due to the pain it causes. We usually do not use this in children under the age of 12.
Surgery is not routinely recommended for warts due to the risk of scarring and re-seeding the virus.
Warts and Verrucas
August 2018 (Dr Eggitt)